How to Select and Care for Poinsettia Plants

Every year I buy poinsettia plants and every year they look awful by the time Christmas comes. What am I doing wrong? How do I pick a good poinsettia and how do I care for it?

Hi Sandy,

Red poinsettia plant
Poinsettia Plant

Selecting the right poinsettia is definitely the first step in having a poinsettia last for weeks and even months. Many people mistakenly think the colorful bracts are the flower petals of the plant. Although these bracts are quite attractive they are not part of the flowers. The real flowers are quite inconsequential and are located inside the small yellow center part of the Poinsettia. These real flowers should be barely open, and there should be no pollen on the bracts of the plant.  Ideally there should be green leaves all the way to the soil line. The plant should be well balanced and not top heavy. Once you’ve chosen the right poinsettia, then you need to care for it properly.

Great gift for plant loving friends who want to learn which houseplants are poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants and should be kept away from pets and children Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to poisonous houseplantsIn her new book, Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat!, plant care professional Judy Feldstein shares information about twenty-five common houseplants, each with various levels of toxicity, and the possible consequences if your pet or child snacks on them..

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